Marketing Tips for Your the Survival of Your Business Marketing When Disaster Strikes

By Debbra Sweet

October 23 , 2007

When disaster strikes a community our first priority is our individual safety and well being.  Next, we start to think about others.  Once we get through the urgent concerns of the disaster, we then will turn to our business.

Just like in every day life, in disastrous situations we have to do one main thing:  make choices.  These choices will affect our future in many ways.  For those of us who own or represent a business, one choice we need to make during this time is how to keep our business producing income.   Many businesses will make the choice of cutting marketing and advertising during tough times.  That could be one of the most costly mistakes they make.  It’s disheartening to watch businesses make that choice – especially when opportunity has just presented itself.

With the current fires that have hit the San Diego/Southern California area- the question to ask yourself is:  what choice will you make?   Unforeseen events can be easier with these marketing survival tips:

Start with the basics:
First, understand what marketing is.  Marketing is very big, very broad and is involved in every element of your business.  It’s what you do from the time you say hello to someone to the next time you say hello to them.  It’s how you present your business to the consumer.  Marketing encompasses ideas, concepts and strategic thought behind the decisions you make when you present your company’s services to the public.   Advertising and promotions sit under the umbrella of marketing.  Advertising deals with the media outlets (what methods) you use to announce your marketing ideas and specific actions.  Promotions are the ‘event’, the reason or incentives offered to encourage people to buy from you.

Second, understand that effective marketing involves many factors.  One of which is timing.  Having the right message at the right time to the right end user is a key factor for marketing success.

Third, consistency is most important!  Rarely is a one time marketing campaign ever effective.  (They can be- but usually they are the exception and not the norm).   For the short term and the long haul, the more consistent you are able to stay in contact with those who are your clients- and those who you want to be- your campaign has an increased chance at success.

Next, it’s important to know that when times get tough, the most successful businesses actually market more and not less.  Why is that?  Every day we are bombarded with an abundance of media input all of which are vying for the same amount of conscious consumer attention.  If you want to be heard, you need to have repetitive exposure, otherwise, your message will quickly get lost in the sea of competing marketing messages.  If you know you are going to enter in to a potentially challenging time in your business, make your targeted message heard and make it often.

Last, know that there are many marketing strategies and opportunities available to help others while you help your own business.

When Disaster Strikes
Now that you have a look at some marketing basics, it’s one thing to be proactive in normal business circumstances, but what do you to when disaster strikes?

If you’ve made the choice to be proactive and protect your business when difficult times arise, here’s insight into how you’ll be helping others while taking care of yourself.

When a disaster hits a community, such as the Harris, Rice and Witch fires, there will be hardship and there will be people in need of your products and services.  Effective and timely marketing of your business to those people will help alleviate their stress and ease their recovery. There is marketing opportunity to position yourself and your company as a resource to those in need.  The most important elements are:  the way you present your marketing message that will help solve their problems or fulfill needs, and the timeliness. You can use a variety of advertising outlets to get your message to them quickly.

By extending your services to people in your community with a caused based marketing approach, combined with a special promotion in a time of need, you will gain clients who will be grateful for your efforts. With continual marketing to them, over time, you will find that you gained a loyal client because you cared enough to offer help in their time of need.  The promotion element makes it easier for them to buy from you.

Regarding promotions, you’ve seen examples of successful approaches for years. There’s the ‘holiday sale’, the ‘year end blow out’, the annual ‘January White Sale” – and so much more.  You’ve seen purchase incentives such as: buy one, get one free; 10% off and even a purchase incentive of ‘proceeds go to a favorite charity”.  These elements of promotions address one area:  motivation and incentive to use your service now.  The San Diego fires that just occurred could actually be the reason for you to reach out to the community. This is the time where creative marketing strategy, combined with a timely event related offer of your service or product can be tied into the recent current event or disaster.  Be creative here- the more original you are, the easier it is for people to remember you.

You might have a specialty product or service that will benefit many.  With all the people who’ve just lost their homes or have been displaced, how will people ever know about your product or service if you don’t market or advertise?  If you have the solution that others need, it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to actually promote your service.  If you were a victim of the disaster, this is even more important if your business is your only livelihood.   During difficult times, people have many more choices to make.  You can support them by making their choices easier.  Help them to find you and let your services and products solve their problems-and the return for you will give you the means to help solve your needs.

Where to Start
If you’re ready to start with a current event/cause related marketing approach, rest assured that this type of marketing can be done with tact and can be well received.  There may be people that will take advantage of other peoples hardships- but most cause related campaigns, if done right, will help to position your business as a trusted resource for years to come.

You can support the people in your community with campaigns that you sponsor yourself, or, you could find other businesses in the area to do a joint effort.  This can be very powerful if you choose your promotional partners wisely.  Complimentary businesses can go into a marketing campaign together thus increasing their reach, enriching the offer and reducing expenses.  If your product directly will support the rebuilding of peoples homes and lives to normalcy, this is the time to step forward and come together with others that can co-promote the cause.

An event can be organized to raise funds, have a class room or seminar style approach to educating locals in the community on how the sponsors of the event can help them rebuild- or you could simply be proactive in a direct campaign to those in need.  There are many uniquely targeted marketing offers you can use to promote your message once you decide to be proactive in a timely way.  A simple gesture like donating useful daily items can go a long way.  There are many available that you can present with your company’s logo and brand in a tactful manner.  These can become new personal favorites of the recipient and you make it easy for them to remember you for years to come.

If you want to understand more – or would like specific ideas that can help out our community with effective, caused based marketing, email or call us at 760-597-2790. 

Last, above all, if you would like a private marketing advisory session to get ideas to help you through the months ahead, I’m offering a ½ hour free call to you.  Just mention this article when you schedule your appointment.

Most importantly, may you be safe and healthy and may you stand strong through the upcoming weeks.